Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wooly Worms & Legends

See that little furry creature crawling along the sunflower?  Did you know he is a famous weather predictor?  Or is he? 
Known as the wooly bear caterpillar or the wooly worm, in the South, he has 13 distinct segments of his body.  Normally they are either reddish-brown or black.  The number of the amber colored segments is supposed to forecast the coming winter's weather. 
The wooly bear was made famous by an entomologist up in New England who enjoyed taking his family on fall excursions into the country to enjoy the fall foliage and along the way studied these larvae of the Isabella Tiger Moth with tongue-in-cheek predictions based on the number of orange segments. 
The worms we see are larvae who were hatched in spring and as fall comes along they begin to search for winter lodging under bark or in cavities in rocks or logs.  That's why we see more of them. 
The end result of the woolly worm transforms is an Isabella Tiger Moth. 
  According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is on the wooly worm, the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.
All this information leaves me a bit perplexed about this little fellow I found out back earlier this week. 
Mike Peters, an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts, says there may be a link between winter severity and the brown band of a wooly bear caterpillar.  He says “that the number of brown hairs has to do with the age of the caterpillar.  In other words, it indicates how late it got going in the spring. So, according to Peters, the stripe does say something about a heavy winter or an early spring."

"The only thing is … it's telling you about the previous year.”  So my dear little friend may be a newborn.  I wish him well in finding a good warm dark hideaway to fulfill his chrysalis. 




  1. So nice to know more about the cute little wooly worm! I've never like touching insects but I've always loved touching these little guys. They just seem so friendly.

  2. My daughter would agree. Thank you for looking in, Dewena.


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